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July 05, 2011


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It seems to me that there are two separate questions. One, the question you allude to, is a question of merit: do judges deserve to make more? That question focuses on the judges as beneficiaries of a pay raise. For whatever little it is worth, I tend to agree with you in answering it. But I ultimately think pay raises are necessary because of the second question: would higher judicial pay lead to a superior judiciary? This question focuses on the beneficiaries of a good judicial system, namely society as a whole and litigants in particular. Although Posner, et al, argue that higher pay won't lead to better results, I am not persuaded. Even if one agrees with them that higher pay won't necessarily lead to better appointments, higher pay might lower the rate of attrition we now observe. And it seems very difficult to argue that the rate of attrition doesn't affect the quality of justice, if only through delays in resolving cases.


I think that its a good thing that the pay is lower. The hours are fairly easy and clerks do much of the heavy lifting with respect to research and writing. I really think that the judges should be fairly distinguished practicioners who serve for 5-8 years at the end of their careers and then retire. This should be a a segue to retirement for people who have learned how to do the job over many years of practice in front of other judges, not a career.


Your article is very interesting fit & add new skills to my

Bill Turnier

I wonder what would be the outcome of a similar analysis for law professor salaries. One could look at bar passage results at high salary and low salary schools to judge success of the legal education. One would, of course, have to adjust the student results to reflect disparity in ability of students at various schools and then also adjust for differing passage rates in different states. It would be hard to do but not impossible. I do not know how many high paid academics would be interested in conducting such a study.

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